2017-11-03 / Commentary

Changing Plans

It’s not a criticism; It’s an observation
Mike Cox

The latest Jason Isbell album: The Nashville Sound, has a cut titled “Molotov.” The song tells of a young man finishing high school, becoming a man, and how he sees his future. As the song progresses, the man’s life takes a different, more ordinary, turn. Like so many of us, it turns out.

The song has a nice beat and is easy for the kids to dance to; I give it an 85. If this reference confuses you, ask your grandparents for help. If you’re one of the grandparents, Google Dick Clark and American Bandstand. I also favor the song because it is relatively easy to play, and if I make adjustments for the incredible voice range Mr. Isbell has, easy to sing. I do have to isolate myself in the Man Room and make sure both tiny dogs are equipped with noise canceling headphones per the court order issued to prevent cruelty to animals.

The chorus begins:

“I broke a promise to myself to ride the throttle till the wheels came off. Burn out like a Molotov in the night sky.” I thought I was the only one whose plans were excessive and then made a sharp right turn to sanity. Except for my high school buddy Nick. Both of us were in bands in high school. We were born three days apart, registered for the military draft together, and talked several times about living the cool life of bachelorhood for a long time after school ended.

In retrospect, I think many young men who attended classmates’ funerals courtesy of Viet Nam probably strongly considered living a short, exciting life that ends with a fiery crash.

My dad thought a lot of Nick until a few months after graduation when he dropped by the house one day on his way out of town. He had grown a full beard and shoulder length hair since graduation night and scared the Bejeezus out of Dad, especially when I acted alarmed as Nick walked up the sidewalk.

The evolving idea of freedom in the late 60s and Nick’s Greek heritage made him look extremely scary to an old man dealing with a changing world. I ’fessed up before Dad was able to locate shotgun shells. Nick would give a fortune for that hair right now.

Sometime during that time frame we made a pact to meet in five years, and whichever one was still unmarried would get a free dinner from the other. I was married by that Thanksgiving, and my first son was born on the next one. Nick was dating a girl named Dee at the time. They are still married.

The first time I heard “Molotov” I thought immediately of Nick. We exchange emails from time to time and promise each other we’ll get together. I’ll make the trip to Traverse City, Michigan, or he’ll call the next time he’s visiting kinfolks in Greenville. But we’re running short on time.

Funny how life works out. I wouldn’t change a thing that happened. My children alone cancel anything that might have been. I’m pretty sure Nick feels the same.

Although burning out like a Molotov sounds fun at this point.

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